Where do I even begin? Obviously, with my last post of course!

I’ve been talking about the Ladder I’ve been programming the last week, though I’ve been working on it a little longer than that. (Maybe, the beginning of the month plus an additional couple weeks for planning?) I’m on like, version 4 after a few false starts.

I had trouble making progress with the “challenge” and “fight” actions, so I stuck a couple easy placeholders in the action-chooser, which is why you seen in the first dozen turns or so: “so-and-so has appeared!” But mostly members do nothing.

So, about priority and actions.
When the Ladder chooses the members who will act, it checks the number of turns since they last acted divided by the total number of ranks – a member’s rank. This helps ensure that lower-tier members act most frequently. In fact, ranks 5-6 easily act 50% more often than rank 4+.

Let’s look at the turn/action summary again really quick:
(turns taken) age/ power/ rank ALIGNMENT, RACE, CLASS (turn priority)
(70) 286/ 3/ 5 EVIL TIEFLING CLERIC (priority 2)
(68) 285/ 3/ 5 NEUTRAL TIEFLING FIGHTER (priority 4)
(68) 284/ 3/ 5 EVIL HUMAN CLERIC (priority 2)
(67) 283/ 3/ 5 GOOD DWARF WARLOCK (priority 4)
(67) Unknown 282/ 1/ 5 NEUTRAL HUMAN WARLOCK (priority 2)
(66) 277/ 5/ 6 GOOD DARK_ELF DRUID (priority 0)
(66) Unknown 273/ 3/ 6 CHAOTIC GNOME BARBARIAN (priority 0)
(65) Unknown 268/ 3/ 6 EVIL HUMAN CLERIC (priority 6)
(65) 266/ 5/ 6 NEUTRAL HUMAN BARD (priority 6)
(65) Unknown 265/ 3/ 6 GOOD HUMAN PALADIN (priority 4)
(65) Unknown 263/ 2/ 6 LAWFUL HUMAN ROGUE (priority 4)
(39) 290/ 5/ 4 EVIL HIGH_ELF WIZARD (priority 6)
(39) 289/ 5/ 4 EVIL HUMAN CLERIC (priority 5)
(39) 288/ 5/ 4 EVIL TIEFLING ROGUE (priority 3)
(38) 287/ 5/ 4 CHAOTIC HALFLING CLERIC (priority 1)
(33) 293/ 8/ 3 EVIL WOOD_ELF CLERIC (priority 0)
(32) 292/ 8/ 3 GOOD DRAGONBORN WIZARD (priority 2)
(31) Unknown 291/ 6/ 3 EVIL HUMAN CLERIC (priority 4)
(23) Unknown 295/10/ 2 CHAOTIC HUMAN BARBARIAN (priority 2)
(22) 294/12/ 2 EVIL DWARF SORCERER (priority 5)
(20) Unknown 296/15/ 1 EVIL HALF_ORC WARLOCK (priority 0)

Ranks 5-6 act 60-75% more than rank 4. And rank 4 acts 50-100% more than ranks 1-3. (That’s just eyeballing the numbers.)

So, that’s priority, but what about actions?

My plan for actions has been changing while working on the Ladder project. At first I just wanted similar functionality to the Nemesis System of Shadow of Mordor, but I had like, way bigger plans right off the bat.

For example, I wanted to be able to put a Ladder within a Ladder, and have factions fight against each other. Why not, right? That’s basically what a dynamic megadungeon environment is supposed to be like, right?

But as I went along with the implementation of Ladder, I realized that it might be a little more difficult than I originally imagined–but at the same time it helped me realize a great deal more potential for the system.

Eventually, I will probably refactor my finished Ladder and break it into Java interfaces to represent how Ladders can interact with each other. I’m also working on names for the various hierarchies so I can keep them all straight.

But the Shadows of Mordor hierarchy in particular? I realized that it doesn’t do much apart from present an interesting threat for the player to interact with–the orcs don’t really have much in the way of ambition, or anything to do outside of squabble.

Which, I guess kind of makes sense for a Chaotic Evil hierarchy of orcs that exists in a vacuum.

It then made sense to me that “internal strife” like the infighting among orcs in Mordor works best when morale is low and the constituent members are bored. They fight among themselves and try to dominate each other. (Lol, dominance hierarchies.)

Looking beyond Mordor, I thought of the guild-building and generic repeatable missions in Assassin’s Creed. Those are admittedly pretty boring, but it was one idea, right? Honestly, I didn’t even think of Assassin’s Creed until I wrote it just now. Brotherhood was just… so boring. Moving on.

So, the players represent factions in Lords of Waterdeep, and they assign quests to groups of generic adventurers that come along. I liked the theming in LoW, and coding board games is kind of how I realized the current project might be feasible.

Blades in the Dark is a tabletop RPG where your party is basically a thieves’ guild and you choose your own missions based on a set of parameters. First, you have the city and other factions to consider. Do you want to gobble up more turf? Expand the guild? The mission-building system is pretty easy to grasp.

Finally, Birthright had some cool ideas about running a realm. I dug into it a bit to try and understand how domains interacted with one another, and how I might write a program around it.

Actually, I have a TON of board games now that I’m drawing inspiration from that I just don’t have room to list or discuss in depth: Kemet, Dominion, and Illuminati are just a few. Then of course there was Mount & Blade on the PC. Like I said, too many.

A Ladder therefore, has members who potentially fight among themselves when they’re bored and morale is low (internal actions), while the upper echelon tries to choose actions for the Ladder as a whole, representing like, missions and quests (external actions).

Then, of course there’s adventuring, and that is a whole other thing to consider.

I figure once I get this Ladder hammered out, I’ll create a couple interfaces to govern how factions should interact with one another, and start again. I realize now that some hierarchies are going to have to be specifically for characters, whereas others are for containing hierarchies themselves.

It’s just that if I want the characters WITHIN the hierarchies to interact in fun, interesting ways, I’m going to have to implement them with the characters in mind (alignments, races, classes, and so forth). I mean, how can I create a clan or tribe unless I create a hierarchy that’s built specifically to take characters primarily of a single species. Or a guild of characters who don’t share a single class or background?

Which is not to say that I won’t allow for exceptions. Sometimes you wind up with “adopted” frost giants in your clan of “Asgardians.” I’d hate to miss out on that design space (and honestly, it’s probably easier not to make the thing 100% exclusive).

Phew. I just wrote like, a thousand words about that.